January 9, 2023 // Uncategorized Grow your business by expanding your network One key strategy for building your business is to actively expand your network. Most entrepreneurs know that having strong supporters who can open doors, help find customers and employees, or help fund your business is a requirement to scale. The question then becomes how do I find the right people to add to my network? Look no further than Venture Connect. This is the go-to event held every spring where founders connect with the resources they need to grow. It’s one of the largest events in the Southeast attracting 1,200 high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurs, investors, partners, and the press. A two-day experience where you can pitch, have conversations and one-on-one partnering meetings. Dates for Venture Connect are March 29-30. Many of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs have presented at Venture Connect, and as a result, connected with folks that have changed the trajectory of their businesses. Just ask Jud Bowman, Brendan Morrissey, Drew Schiller, Rich West, Joy Parr Drach, and Matt Kane to name a few. Over 6,700 companies have been onstage, now it’s your turn. Applications for companies to present on stage are open now, apply here. If selected, you’ll have 5 minutes to deliver a clear and compelling presentation and make the critical ask to expand your network/grow your business. Successful presenters are clear and crisp, and use these four keys to ensure they attract the attention of the right people to join their network.#1 IT IS A STORY: There is a lot written on what elements make up a compelling story (I like this one and this one). The point of starting with a story outline is to engage the audience you most want to connect with. Have a clear picture of what those people will find interesting and compelling about your business, then take them on a journey, so as to have the best chance of engaging them and asking them to join you in the next phase of that journey. #2 GOOD EDITING: Editing is critical to an effective presentation. Almost all pitch events are going to have a time limit (Ours is 5 minutes–Ted talks have perfected the 11-minute cycle). Your job is not to cram the most amount of stuff you can within the time limit! Rather it’s to communicate your complex message as clearly and crisply and succinctly as possible. The hard part is to decide what to take out. This can be challenging and takes time. Each point you make must add to your story if it doesn’t take it out. #3 ALWAYS HAVE AN ASK: When you outline the story, you can start with the end in mind. “what do I want the right people in this audience to do?” If I am raising capital, I want investors who can add value to my company (and write a check) to come to seek me out. Now, I know my ask and can craft the story to create a compelling lead-in to that ask. #4 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: There’s an old joke (older than me) that goes, ask a New Yorker how to get to Carnegie Hall. The answer you’ll get is, “practice, practice, practice.” But seriously, standing on a stage of a large auditorium in front of 300+ people is a nerve-racking experience, even for the most seasoned pro (in fact you can learn to turn that anxiety and nervousness into positive energy and enthusiasm during the performance). Add the pressure of trying to find new funding for your company plus the lights, cameras, video monitors, countdown clock, microphones, etc. and you have a high-stress situation. The more you can practice, standing up in front of people who don’t know you/your story, the better off you will be. So if you need to grow your business, build a stronger network. Applications are now open to present, but hurry, the deadline is January 13th. Apply to present at CED’s Venture Connect.